Thursday, January 25, 2018

Throwback Thursday: The Age of Information

Main Street Gazette

Could you imagine a world without the internet? For one thing, you wouldn't be reading this blog post now. The internet has become so ubiquitous within our everyday life that it seems almost impossible to imagine a world without it.

And yet, nearly 40 years ago, such a world actually existed. The very prospect of an "information superhighway" that connected all the world's computers together seemed unimaginable, and the very applications of such a network proved fathomless.

So it was only fitting that one of the many opening day exhibits at Epcot Center's Communicore (now Innoventions) was one that showcased such an "age of information", though the way it showcased this new idea proved quite old-fashioned.

To learn more about the Age of Information, click READ MORE:

Mice Chat

AT&T Age of Information Centre was an exhibit located within Communicore's west wing that showcased the future of telecommunications, especially though the internet, or as it was known back then, the "information superhighway."

The exhibit included several touch panel kiosks where guests could play interactive games. As Lost Epcot explains: "One game was called Network Control and allowed guests to simulate the management of the flow of long-distance U.S. calls on a map. A second game, called Phraser, would "speak" the works that guests would type on a keyboard."

The central attraction of this exhibit was The Age of Information Theater, a large-scale kinetic display containing fifty-five figures with intricate details and moving parts that all showcased, according to its unofficial video description, "the benefits of soon-to-be-realized technological advances like personal computers, smart telephones, voicemail and internet."

Lost Epcot

The central figures of this display were a family of three with a mother, father, and son, with the two parental figures opening up their chests to show vignettes of people utilizing new telecommunication technologies to do everything from check the stock market to planning a trip to a ski resort.

While this exhibit was created a good decade before the internet became commonplace through the "world wide web", this exhibit helped show many ways that the internet would be utilized within our daily lives, even to the point of using a "smart telephone" in which "your phone will be a computer" to send and receive data and messages through "electronic speed." (This was 24 years before the first iPhone was released!)

The artist behind this exhibit was Walter Einsel, an American sculptor and illustrator who worked for the New York Times before becoming the art director at NBC and later CBS, where he met his wife. Together, they would be the first couple to create stamp designs for the U.S. Post Office, and would both become inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame shortly before his death in 1998.

Most interesting about this "forward-thinking" exhibit was how "old-fashioned" its overall presentation was. The sculptures were made out of wood, the art design appeared as though it was ripped right off the cover of an old magazine, and even the song sounds like something you'd hear on Schoolhouse Rock. (In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the people who created the song also worked on Schoolhouse Rock!)

Sadly, the exhibit, along with the rest of Communicore, was removed when the area was renovated as Innoventions. However, you can still marvel at the magic of the "Age of Information" with the video below:

1 comment:

  1. What a great find on YouTube. Not bad quality for when it was filmed.

    The one thing that always puzzled me was the name they gave to the front half of EPCOT Center. I think naming it "Future World" was a mistake. It would've been much more fitting to name it "Discovery World" so as not to be stuck with trying to show futuristic design and styling, but rather focus on the discovery of new things and ideas. It would've also allowed for a wider scope of presentation without being trapped in the "Tomorrowland Syndrome".